o canada!

the so-called winter here in southern california is nothing like i expected. the temperature hovers in the high-70s (some days, 80s) during the day and drops below 40 at night. despite such extreme day-night fluctuations, psa for seasonal flu shots are hardly seen.

case in point, a family trip to banff national park in alberta, canada was arranged for the holidays. i never thought that i’d miss the lung-freezing, face-mauling winter chill of the great mitten, but i guess my body felt otherwise.

salmon arm, british columbia

part of the extraordinary rockies, banff national park is located just north of the state of montana. so the drive (yes, we drove) took a large portion of the three-night four-day trip (600 miles from seattle). we left vancouver early in the morning and headed east until we hit the longitudinal center of the british columbia: salmon arm.

on the following day, driving, again, consumed a good sum of the trip that took us further east to the alberta province (named after the princess louise caroline alberta). and waiting for the avalanche control to clear the trans-canada highway did not help us get through the rogers pass either.

banff gondola ascending the sulfur mountain

after two days of inclimate weather and what felt like infinity, we finally reached our destination (play navigation lady’s voice here). the first attraction (and the only one to be quite honest) was the banff gondola. but $30 for a ride up the mountain in an aluminum capsule…seriously?

view out the window of the gondola

it was worth every single canadian penny! the 12-minute ascension alone was worth the time we spent on the road. i can assure you that the expression ‘breathtaking’ has its etymology rooted here at banff.

one of earth’s most beautiful gems: canadian rockies!

we got off of the gondola and then…bam! chris tomlin’s indescribable instantly played in my head. ‘awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim…you are amazing god’. amen to that…amen to that.

a stairway to heaven

there was a wooden boardwalk trail that led up to a viewpoint, but unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to climb the stairs. we will leave it for next time.

breathing in the sub-alpine evergreen pines

the other side of the basin was equally as beautiful. soon (too soon), our time was up and we had to catch a ride back to the base.

12 minutes of heaven

whereas the ride up the mountain was marked with merriment and anticipation, the ride down was filled with nothing but silence. simply lost for words at the immense beauty of the astounding views. my visual orgasms did not stop there. we stopped by bow falls where we found thick slabs of ice resting over the frozen lake, a frozen waterfall, and snow-capped peaks in distant background.

slabs of ice over the lake

i know i have been utilizing black and white like an old cliché, but its starkness seduced me like a femme fatale out of a noir film.

cue vivaldi’s four seasons here

bear grylls a grizzly bear catching a wild salmon on the glacier island in the photo would’ve completed the scene. but it is still beautiful as it! my sister and i had wondered how the turquoise-saturated lake louise would look dressed in winter attire. the answer was quite different from what we had imagined.

lake louise at a glance

following the trail that intersected with trails sculpted by nordic skiers, we were absolutely stunned to see what lake louise had to show in snow. it was simply astonishing. striking beauty it was.

on top of the frozen lake

trekking past the sign that read ‘danger! thin ice!’, i was able to get a closer view of the valley created by the giant ‘rocks’. the princess must have been a ’10’ to have had this lake named after her. because it topped anything that i’ve seen in my life (albeit my scant travel experience).

crescent moon over the grand rocky bluffs

the night fell softly on lake louise and it was time for us to head back home. to seattle, then to irvine that is.

kayak rentals cabin in winter

you made my heart melt like a block of butter on pan. you lifted up my soul like a hot balloon in autumn sky. thank you canada, thank you queen victoria, thank you princess louise caroline alberta. until next time…

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